Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper

Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper

The Carbon Fiber Butterfly is the world's lightest RC Plane. Between its transparent plastic wings, the carbon fiber skeleton, the prop, controller chip, drivetrain and rudder, it weighs 3.6 grams. That's less than a sheet of paper.

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The motor and 5:1 gearbox are Swiss made, and the rudder actuator is sensitive to 64-steps, allowing 180-degree turns within a 12-foot-wide room. And the battery pack is a dot-sized 30Mah Lithium ion that docks on the 2-channel remote. The prop? Carbon fiber, of course.

How does it fly? I won't lie, I'm going to use the included simulator software before I try piloting this $300 plane in my house. But after the gallery, there's a video. More on my maiden flight, later, after flight school.

Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper
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Illustration for article titled Carbon Butterfly Gallery: RC Plane Lighter Than a Sheet of Paper

Video after the jump...as soon as youtube gets its shit together.

A little history: The Carbon is the successor to the original Butterfly, made from Balsa wood. I won't mince words: That thing was the most fragile gadget I'd ever seen. Within minutes, the slight frame was smashed in three places.

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Carbon Butterfly [Gizmodo]

DISCUSSION

After owning 3 RC products from Plantraco I can tell you they all have one problem in common:

The batteries.

Plantraco would have you believe their batteries are state of the art. The truth is, they are poorly designed.

Why else would all of my Plantraco RC planes suffer from the same issue? All of them have lost power mid-flight, sending them spiraling or nose diving to the ground. I have made many repairs to these products due to the battery losing connection mid-flight, leaving me with zero control of the aircraft.

In addition to faulty batteries, Plantraco receivers are also glitchy (just do a google search for "Plantraco receiver issues.")

The issue with the receiver is not entirely clear to me, but what is clear is the issue with the batteries.

What's so terrible about their battery design you ask? It's very simple: Plantraco batteries connect using magnets. When the batteries encounter vibration (either from wind or the propeller motion) the contacts shift around, causing the power going to the planes servos to fluctuate. In many cases, the power fluctuates enough to cause the receiver on the plane to either turn off permanently, or reboot. In either case the result is usually a devastating crash.

Unfortunately, Plantraco seems to think this is not a problem, although they admit it does occur and it is one of the main issues with their products (there is a whole page on the issue on their website.)

Despite this, Plantraco continues to release small-scale RC planes that use this faulty battery design.

In other words, whether you're buying a $99 foam framed plane or a $300 carbon fiber plane, both will undoubtedly crash to the ground at some point unexpectedly when the battery loses contact with the receiver mid-flight, because both use the same defective battery design.

I am writing this as a warning so other people don't waste the time/money I did with Plantraco products!

Not only does the issue completely remove any enjoyment you might be able to have with their RC planes, they are also rude and dismissive when you call them to explain the problem. They seem to accept the defect as normal and make the customer feel like they've done something wrong when the battery goes flying off on your first flight sending the plane to the ground and breaking the propeller.

I have spent quite a bit of money on this company, but now I have completely lost faith in their products. I would urge you to explore other alternatives if you are considering making a purchase from Plantraco.